Archive for Wednesday, October 8, 2003

City targeted in lawsuit over rezoning

October 8, 2003

The city of Tonganoxie is being sued again.

Last week, the city settled a federal lawsuit brought by owners of three downtown businesses who said city officials violated the owners' civil rights by boycotting their businesses. Following mediation, the city agreed to pay the owner of each business $2,500. The Tonganoxie City Council is expected to give final approval to that settlement agreement.

In a lawsuit against the city that Ernest and Ruth Edmonds filed over the recent rezoning of about 27 acres on Smiley Road, the couple allege the Tonganoxie City Council:

¢ Did not receive a formal recommendation from the city's planning commission, which had voted Aug. 6 to approve the rezoning.

¢ Held no discussion on the rezoning request.

¢ Didn't allow public comment on the request.

¢ Didn't require the developer to provide drawings of his plans for the property.

Now, the city faces another legal challenge -- this one waged over a controversial rezoning the city council approved in August.

In a lawsuit filed in Leavenworth County District Court, local residents Ernest L. and Ruth A. Edmonds are appealing the city's decision this summer to rezone 27.5 acres owned by developer Greg Ward. The property is on the west side of Smiley Road, north of Hatchell Road.

On Aug. 25, the city council approved rezoning of the land from rural residential district to single-family district.

Rural residential zoning allows for lots that are a minimum of one acre in size, while single-family district allows for lots as small as 6,000 square feet in size.

The surrounding area is zoned rural residential and consists of lots that are one acre and two acres, and larger, in size.

In the lawsuit, the Edmonds allege the city council:

  • Did not receive a formal recommendation from the city's planning commission, which had voted Aug. 6 to approve the request.
    ¢ Held no discussion on the rezoning request.
    ¢ Failed to allow public comment on the request.
    ¢ Did not require Ward to provide drawings of his plans for the property.

"Despite the lack of information from the planning commission, the valid protest petition and community opposition to the proposal, the city council voted to approve Ward's rezoning request," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit further says that Ward's proposed development "would be contrary to the character of the neighborhood and the zoning uses of the surrounding property would detrimentally affect the nearby property and the nearby property values."

Ward has said he plans single-family garden homes for empty-nesters and senior citizens.

Mike Crow, city attorney, said the city will respond to the lawsuit, adding that he could not comment further in the action.

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